Shaping the corporate landscape

Mistrust in corporate governance and multi-national companies has rarely run deeper than today. In extreme cases of malfeasance, corporate bosses might be called in to answer questions about their own exploitative conduct vis-a-vis their businesses, as we have seen recently in the public interrogation of Sir Phillip Green, former “owner” of the now defunct BHS. But generally, it has become ever clearer that while corporations carry responsibility for many of our current global problems, from rising social inequality to looming ecological disaster, they are rarely held fully accountable for their misdemeanours and recklessness.

Our corporate governance system has so far failed to impose effective limits on the rent-seeking of financial investors and the excess of corporate managers at the expense of the wider workforce and the exploitation of our communities and the environment. Instead, profit maximisation for shareholders, and handsome remuneration packages for company directors even when they manage their company against the long-term interests of employees, consumers and the wider communities that businesses are meant to serve, continue to dominate the order of the day.

We need a new corporate landscape

On 14 and 15 June 2016, the Centre for Law and Enterprise in the University of Bristol Law School held a symposium on Shaping the Corporate Landscape, exploring the possibility corporate reform and the availability of new corporate forms. The event was organised by Nina Boeger and Professor Charlotte Villiers. We addressed the following four themes, from a variety of disciplinary angles:

  • Contemporary and historical critiques of the joint stock corporation, its governance and regulation;
  • Avenues that point towards progressive development of the joint stock corporation, its organizational and legal form, governance, rights and liabilities;
  • Emergent legal and organizational forms of business enterprise that present alternatives to the joint stock corporation and advance a more diverse, democratic, inclusive and flexible global entrepreneurial landscape comprising, amongst others, mutual societies, cooperatives and social enterprises;
  • Avenues for bringing about positive changes that include the development of innovative and diverse enterprise activity, as well as enabling participants to engage more effectively.

The conference proceedings will be published as an edited volume of essays, in 2017.

It's in the practice of social enterprise that I think the story is inspiring and encouraging.

Dan Gregory - Shaping the Corporate Landscape synposium, June 2016

Contact us

For more information please contact Nina Boeger.

Tel: +44 (0) 117 954 5358